Monday, 30 June 2014

Knitting and the art of minimalism

I have really enjoyed taking part in the Project 333 challenge and after a month I am starting to see the benefits of simplifying my wardrobe. My morning routine is simpler and calmer with less clutter and fewer choices - and I can pull something out of the wardrobe without releasing an avalanche.

In the interests of decluttering, my mind has turned naturally enough, to my other potential avalanche risk - The Stash.

Like any self respecting knitter I am keeper of a goodly sized stash, but, is it too much, I wonder? Does my stash help my knitting life and imbue me with a sense of calm and satisfaction that I am ready for any knitting challenge or does it threaten to overwhelm me and complicate my knitting life. Hands up that woman (me) who had to buy an extra skein of yarn to finish a project, only to find the missing skein months later in a box of 'deep stash'.

I have no desire to cull the stash severely or to impose any sort of frugal 'cold-sheeping' existance - the idea is just to review it (all of it) and to see what serves a purpose, and what does not.

Employing William Morris' principle of "Keep only what you know to be useful or believe to the beautiful" I will be categorising my yarn into the following groups:

Beautiful Yarns
This doesn't have to have a purpose. It is just beautiful, and lifts my heart when I look at it. It is my source of inspiration, of comfort and of joy. I am lucky enough to have some beautiful sock yarn and laceweight yarn in my stash which is lovingly hand-dyed and a source of pure joy.

Yarns with a purpose
Yarns for which I have a definite project in mind. It doesn't matter when I intend to actually make it, but I must have a defined use for it (and linking it to my Ravelry queue wouldn't hurt either)

Useful Yarns
This includes baby yarns (although I must have enough to make an actual garment) and superwash dk/aran suitable for hats and gift giving (ditto regarding the amounts though). I know for a fact that I have many part-skeins in this category which I have saved for some unspecified time in the future.

Everything else
If a yarn doesn't fall into either of these 3 categories then it will end up here and will be destined to leave my house in some form or another (charity shop, gifting, de-stashing etc)

I don't have a huge amount of free time this week so every day I'll take one of my storage crates - I have 4 and work through it, applying these principles.

Next week, I'll let you know how I got on. And if you don't hear from me, I'll be buried under a yarn avalanche somewhere :) 

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The wheel came off

In cycling terms, my Tour came to a grinding halt when my almost finished Kam Chu sock met two very enthusiastic kittens.

Yes, it was entirely my own fault

Yes, I had left it lying in plain view of two playful, inquistive balls of fluff, but still, it didn't stop me being a little less than pleased to come home and find this:

 Attempts at painful sock reconstruction were unsuccesful and despite some marathon knitting I didn't complete the project in time. I can still continue with the Tour in other stages but to be honest this one rather knocked the stuffing out of me and although I have attempted the 3rd Stage - with Roll the Bones - my heart wasn't in it. And my tension was way too tight - I wonder why!

They are lovely socks though and I will definitely return to them at a later date.

For now, I did the only sensible thing and cast on for some plain vanilla socks in delicious, good-enough-to-eat yarn from Desert Vista Dyeworks - the latest offering from the Golden Skein. The colours remind me of blackberry crumble and custard - just as soothing as a vanilla sock when one is in need of comfort.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Tour de Sock FO

Apologies for showing the same project twice in a row but I have been a little monogamous this week. Working on the Tour de Sock project left little time for anything else, but I am pleased to say that having cast on, on 1st June I finished at 10pm (GMT) on 4th June.

And very pleased I was too.

The legs were far longer than I normally knit (approx 8.5") and I begrudged every last row of the ribbing. The Y-heel turn I'm not crazy about and I don't think I would do again but overall they are a very handsome sock and I will wear them with pride.

At the time of writing there are 358 Wye projects in Ravelry with 87 finished. There are many others nearing completion though so it will be fun to cheer them on as they race to the finish.

The next stage starts on June 10th so I have time for a bit of non-sock knitting to give my hands a rest.

To use up some aran weight from stash - StashDash2014 - I am working on another Garter Ripple Squish blanket. We are going to be getting two new kittens tomorrow so in preparation (as well as storing all my yarn in sealable plastic bins) I am making a kitty blanket. Of course they will probably ignore it and make a beeline for my sock yarn blankie in progress, but it's worth a try and it helps me get towards my 5K Stash Dash target.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Tour de Sock

I must be mad, I have no idea why on earth I get myself into these things.

I signed up to this years Tour de Sock 2014 challenge. A sort of speed-knitting event which raises money for Doctors without Borders.

You pay your entrance fee, find a few like-minded sould to join you in a team (or go solo) and you're off.

There are 6 stages and each pair of socks must be completed by the time the next stage starts in order for you to progress. If you don't manage to complete, you still get access to the patterns - you are just out of the race.

I love events like this as it allows people to take part at whatever level they are comfortable with. Some just like the fun of a good old-fashioned KAL. Some like to sharpen their competitive edge a little or to challenge themselves to achieve a target. And some like to go all out, in a no holds barred race to the finish.

For the record I probably fall into the middle category - if only because I know I am in no way speedy enough to race to the finish.

The first pattern is the Wye Socks. Now these are relatively complex socks with twisty cables and (what seems to me) an unfeasibly long leg, but some amazing knitters were posting finished pairs within 24hrs of the pattern being published: here and here.

I have no idea how our speedy Finnish cousins knit so quickly but I am in awe of such speed and accomplishment.

As for me, after some determined hard-core knitting time and extensive use of saved freezer meals I have completed 1 sock and have just turned the heel of the next. the French would say!